"'Twas the nocturnal segment of the diurnal period preceding the annual
yuletide celebration, and throughout our place of residence, kinetic
activity was not in evidence among the possessors of this potential,
including that species of domestic rodent known as Musmusculus."
This version of the coming visit from St. Nicholas is "for readers in
their 23rd year of schooling," as passed along on the library network.
I tend to resemble the grinch in early December, and several years ago,
in my grinchiest mood, I created an "Annual Awful Taste in Toys Award."
I think the first one, awarded in 1992, may never be surpassed in bad
taste. It was the Jesus Doll at $29.95. According to the publicity, He
bends at the waist, is machine washable and wears His heart on His
tunic. I think He offends the religious and the non-religious equally.
I believe his creator promised the Virgin Mary for the next year, but
fortunately she never appeared.
Since then I have found several interesting candidates. A couple of
years I have nominated Barbie and nearly been chased out of town. I do
think that over the years, the toy that has done the most damage to
millions of little girls is Barbie - she of the unachievable figure and
the big hair. This year we have a couple of new ones: Barbie with a
belly button and a flexible waist, whatever that means, and Swimming
Barbie who can swim in your bath tub.
This year most of the toys - divided by sexes, of course - involve big,
noisy machines and vicious monsters, and various dolls with kitchens.
There are, of course, the usual gross-out items, which we won't mention,
and the electronic games which I would play if I could figure them out.
But maybe even Barbie is a more satisfactory toy than this years robotic
pets and babies. Modern technology is so busy outdoing itself that it
has forgotten the line between fantasy and reality. Children haven't.
They live in a fantasy world and I wonder what mechanical creatures are
doing to them.
There is a remarkable lack of the type of toys which have lasted through
the years, making one wonder whether toys change, or children do. I
have watched a lot of kids in the years since my childhood and that of
my sons, and the favorite toys which have lasted through the generations
and which seemed to be the best loved have been those that the kids
could hug or build. Why are the teddy bear and building blocks still
This year we have artificial babies and artificial dogs. I assume,
since toy makers are still sexist, that the robotic dogs are for boys
and robotic dolls are for girls.
My nominee this year's award is "My Dream Baby." The manufacturer says
of this ultimate technological result in toy making, "...she grows from
infant to toddler both physically and emotionally...She enters your
world as a newborn. As a full grown toddler she can walk on her own and
has a 500 word vocubalury." When she reaches toddler maturity, you can
flip a switch and she will be a newborn again.
Now that's really scary! My friend the philosopher said, "Good Grief! A
doll like this could lay guilt on a girl that will be with her for her
entire life. Best use would be to give it to middle school girls and
make them take care of it by themselves for a year."
As a matter of fact I suspect that sometimes parents wish they could
flip a switch and turn their terrible twos into newborns again, but
little kids shouldn't have to deal with this.
Little children live in their own world of fantasy. Do we really have a
right to take it away from them in the name of "reality." With
Lincoln Logs or legos they can build fantasy castles. With a teddy
bear or a soft huggable doll they know it isn't real, but they wake
with it, sleep with it and drag it around like Linus' blanket. It is
security for them.
But whatever, the children are waiting for that magic night which is
coming all too soon -- "Twas the nocturnal segment of the diurnal period
preceding the annual yuletide celebration."